Thankfully, I don’t have to traipse into town every morning to get to work – most days, I’m based at home – but I’m working on a project at the minute that requires me be on-site every day. (And every evening too but that’s another one). From where I’m based at home, at the edge of the Council’s completely potty proposed Croke Park match-day parking exclusion zone (about which I might have a rant later in the week if I find the time), there’s absolutely no point driving into town. There’s even less point feeding a meter all day long and, in any event, the 123 bus does the job just fine.
This morning we were chugging along down the Ballybough Road, my head stuck in a book (Julia Kelly’s With My Lazy Eye, if you want to know), and as we crossed that hump-back bridge over the canal, my eyes wandered over across the warren of two-up, two-down redbrick houses to the vast ship-like hulk of Croke Park beyond. The early sun was striking its concrete flanks and illuminating all that metal and glass and while it would obviously have been as quiet inside at that hour as an empty cathedral, on a sunny morning like this one it didn’t take much to conjure up images of all the hubbub that happens there on a big Summer’s match day.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper day out at HQ. Last year’s league semi-final and final there never felt like the real thing and then, of course, we lost our way in the qualifiers so we never got to see the inside of the place again last Summer. That means that the All-Ireland final of 2006 was the last time the Green and Red was there in force.
For those who believe in sequences, we should be back in Croker for an All-Ireland quarter-final this year, like we were there in 2004 and 2006. I don’t hold with such numerological fiddle-faddle but that shouldn’t mean that we won’t win Connacht this year. We have every chance of doing so but only if we’re good enough. And then, perhaps, we can start thinking about Croker in a slightly less mystical manner than the way I found myself doing on the bus into town this morning.